The Samurai: Endō's Search for Christ in Japan and Beyond

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This seminar is the first of three in the series Writing Between Cultures: A Virtual Campus Seminar.

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Writing Between Cultures: A Virtual Campus Seminar

In this series, we will look at how literature can help us understand Catholicism in global contexts. Each writer identified below wrote from and about life between cultures while also expressing differing relationships to Catholicism. Core topics we will explore include inculturation, colonization, the nature of missionary work, and the need for a more universal Catholicism. We will also be looking to see how literature can help as a guide for Catholicism in the era of the global Church.

Each of these writers had deep though complicated relationships with Catholicism and found powerful ways to express that in their fiction. Over the course of the year, we will be reading Shūsaku Endō’s The Samurai to see how Endō connected deep Japanese traditions with the newly arrived Catholicism of the missionaries. We will then turn to Graham Greene’s novel The Power and Glory to see how Greene depicts the sacramental priesthood in Mexico while asking how Greene (an Englishman) imagined the whiskey priest (a Mexican). We will end with the American/Jamaican novelist and poet Claude McKay’s Amiable with Big Teeth along with his Catholic poetry to see how his relationships with Africa, the United States, and communism connect to his eventual conversion to Catholicism.

The Samurai: Shūsaku Endō’s Search for Christ in Japan and Beyond

Our first writer is Shūsaku Endō, a Japanese Catholic novelist. Endō is a writer who explored the difficulties of the encounters of Catholicism with Japanese culture. In particular, he questioned whether Catholicism could take root in the culture of Japan and how inculturation may change Catholicism itself. We will consider his metaphor of the Church as a symphony of diverse cultural and ethnic approaches as one possible answer to this challenge. The Samurai encapsulates many aspects of our theme as it narrates a story of Japanese and Spanish encounters across three continents. The story challenges its reader to think about faith, literature, and cross-cultural tensions in the traditional figure of the Japanese samurai.

Over four weeks, we will read The Samurai and discuss aspects of the novel with two Endō scholars, Van C. Gessel of Brigham Young University and the translator of The Samurai into English, as well as John T. Netland of Union University. Our concluding session will consist in an open discussion of what we have learned about the text.

The seminar will be held via Zoom from 7:00pm–8:30pm over the course of four Thursday evenings: October 8, 15, 22, and 29.

The fee to attend this semester's Endō seminar is $125.00. However, if you register for the Endō seminar by Wednesday, 9/23, you can take advantage of the Early Bird Sale to save $25!

The Spring 2021 seminar on Graham Greene and the Summer 2021 seminar on Claude McKay will each cost $125 as well. You may pay per semester, or combine your three-semester purchase with our matching gift opportunity!

The Writing Between Cultures Virtual Campus Seminar series commenced with a free virtual panel event on September 17: Writing Between Cultures: Exploring the Catholicism of Shūsaku Endō, Graham Greene, Claude McKay, and Su Xuelin. To watch the recording of this virtual event on YouTube, click here.

With the generous support of a Collegium Institute Trustee, we are pleased to offer a matching gift challenge. We would like to share that blessing with you through our Virtual Seminar Series. With your donation of $500 or more, we invite you to participate in all three semesters of the Writing Between Cultures Virtual Campus Seminar and we will be able to match a portion of your gift through the challenge. If you are interested in making this donation of $500 or more and gaining access to all three semesters of the Writing Between Cultures Virtual Campus Seminar, please contact Emmie Brown at ebrown@collegiuminstitute.org.

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